In a crowded Middlebury middle school gym Tuesday hundreds waited to hear opinions on the proposed Vermont gas pipeline.
But the opinions that eventually matter belong to the three people up front.
“If you bring comments that you're working on or reading off of it's very helpful if you turn those into us,” Public Service Board Chairman James Volz.
The public service board will determine whether the pipeline project will receive a permit. And they're trying to get as much information beforehand as possible.
Earlier Tuesday the board toured the proposed 43-mile long pipeline path from Colchester to Middlebury with parties representing both sides.
Opposition parties rallied in front of the middle school hoping to get across their environmental message to the board.
“Placing a fossil fuel pipeline in the midst of our state is actually a step backwards,” Vermont Citizens for Public Good Spokesperson George Gross said.
Vermont Gas System says the pipeline will bring cheaper energy options to people in Addison County.
“There will be some supporters here I mean largely this is a set up for a forum for the opposition to hear,” Vermont Gas Director of Communications Steve Wark said.
Soon the board will begin its in-depth look at the project. Starting next Monday the technical hearings and cross examinations for the board, when groups who have claimed a stake for or against the project make their case.
They might have the last word but people at the Middlebury meeting hope their opinions also make a difference.
“We're taking this as lines of questioning we should make sure get explored in the technical hearing,” Board member John Burke said.
After the hearings the next important date is October 11 when groups at the hearings have to submit a final briefing. October 25 is when opposing parties submit rebuttals.
After that a decision by the board can be made. But when is still up in the air.